LA TOLTECA Promoting the Advancement of a World Without Borders and Censorship
Spring Equinox 2014 Año Cuatro/Volumen Dos
Frida-inspired Artists: Emilia García & Robert Valadez
The Politics of Water Sonnet Contest Winners
Reviews, Spring Reads, Essays, Workshopistas’ Palette
Publisher & Editor-in-chief Ana Castillo Managing Editor Los Toltecas
Workshopistas On the Cover Graphic Design Creative Direction
Ignatius Valentine Aloysius Marcelo Castillo Patricia Crisafulli Ama Billi Free Gibrán Papaloyaotl Güido Christina Herrera Dulcinea M. Lara Paul McLennan Albert Moritz Patricia Quintana Janine Stubbs Eduardo Viduarre Omar González Nakisha Rice “Rosita” Robert Valadez, USA ©2014 http://robertvaladez.com/home.html Abstrack Designs Ignatius Valentine Aloysius
La Tolteca ‘Zine is published twice a year in spring and fall. L/T ‘Zine is not responsible for the authenticity of contributors’ content. All contributors are solely responsible for their submissions. SUBMISSIONS POLICY: All Ana Castillo workshopistas are invited to submit original, unpublished
work in any genre or media for consideration: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fall theme: Se habla español. La Tolteca ‘Zine welcomes new books to review: P.O.B. 1405/Anthony, NM 88021. (PDFs and e-books are not accepted.)
CONTENTS EN MEMORIAM BEHIND THE SCENES Ana Castillo
For the Love of Frida
Art by Emilia Garcia & Robert Valadez
SONNET CONTEST WINNERS The Past and Future of the Octet and Sestet Essay by Albert Moritz
THE POLITICS OF WATER:
The Ripple Effect Ama Billi Free Mud and Puddles In Mugera Patricia Crisafulli Raíz Sin Agua Dulcinea M. Lara Our Ranchito Janine Stubbs So Much Water, We Did Not See It Patricia Crisafulli Water & Power: Chicano Film Debut Going With the Flow: A Photo Memoir Patricia Quintana Self-Detemination and the Struggle Over Water in the Rio Grande Paul McLennan
Rain Ignatius Valentine Aloysius The Making of the Librotraficantes Article by Tony Diaz
REVIEWS Sueño by Lorna Dee Cervantes Eduardo Viduarre
Song of the Golden Scorpion by Alma Luz Villanueva Christina Herrera INTERVIEW A Conversation with Juan Blea Marcelo Castillo
SPRING READS WORKSHOPISTAS’ PALETTE Border Crossing Story by Omar González Healing with Yemaya Nakisha Rice ANNOUNCEMENTS
“Mujer Oaxaceña” Emilia Garcia, USA ©2014
The U.S. lost two long-standing committed artists and voices of the people this year. 1.
Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) started his long writing and activist career as Leroi Jones. Of the generation where stating one’s Blackness with no uncertain terms Baraka was among the fiercest and controversial. His work included essays, fiction, poetry and plays. He also wrote music criticism. While poet laureate of New Jersey his poem, ‘Somebody Blew Up America,’ criticized by some for being anti-semite, provoked the legislators to abolish his position. Baraka’s legacy as a major poet of the second half of the 20th century remains matched by his importance as a cultural and political leader. Baraka did not always identify with radical politics, nor did his writing
always court controversy. During the 1950s Baraka befriended the Beats. With the rise of the civil rights movement Baraka’s works took on a militant tone. His trip to Cuba in 1959 marked an important turning point in his life. His view of his role as a writer, the purpose of art, and the degree to which ethnic awareness deserved to be his subject changed dramatically. After Black Muslim leader Malcolm X was killed in 1965, Baraka founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School in Harlem. After coming to see Black Nationalism as a destructive form of racism, Baraka denounced it in 1974 and became a third world socialist.
2. Hoy enterraron al Louie. And San Pedro o san pinche Are in for it. And those Times of the forties And the early fifties Lost un vato de atole. -Jose E. Montoya
Jose Montoya (1932-2014) was born in New Mexico and spent the majority of his life in California. He taught art at Cal State University, Sacramento for nearly three decades during which time he was a painter and graphic artist, poet, musician and activist. A Sacramento poet laureate, he was cofounder of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a collection of artists-turned-activists who used their words, music and images to fight for justice and equality for farmworkers and other marginalized Americans. The RCAF set the standard for using art as a tool for Chicano historical exposition, advocacy and the education of young people. Montoya was among the
El Louie, 1969
Original Founders of El Plan de Santa Barbara: A Chicana/o Plan for Higher Education book (http:// www.sscnet.ucla.edu/00W/chicano101-1/SBplan. pdf). In addition to his service to the Chicano community as an advocate for human rights, he carried his work into healing through the use of Chicano and Native ceremonies. In the social sphere, his desire to alleviate domestic anguish in Chicano homes and personal lives he was also instrumental in forming the National Compadres Network. Using bilingualism and barrio Spanish, Montoya led the way for subsequent Chicano poets in expressing their voices true to their hearts.
“Aurora” Robert Valadez, USA ©2014
behind the scenes W
elcome to another year for our labor of love for the arts and letters, La Tolteca ‘Zine. The theme for this Spring Solstice issue is ¡Sí se puede! ‘Yes we can’ is a phrase originally coined by the activist Dolores Huerta (Pictured below. Lorna Dee Cervantes, also pictured. Review of her new poetry collection in this issue). We hope to offer similar inspiration from the contributors who bravely contemplate environmental politics, identity, and the love of Frida. The late Mexican artist is now a giant in the art world, but to Chicano and Chicana artists, her use of color and praise of all things Mexican in popular culture resonate in their hearts and brushes. La Tolteca ‘Zine would like to thank all those who submitted their original sonnets to our contest, and we congratulate our two featured winners. We also congratulate our current writer-in-residence. For more information regarding the writer-in-residence program and my workshops held around the country, please contact us at email@example.com. Our Autumn Equinox issue theme will be Se habla español. We are intrigued by how people come to the Spanish language. Any writer who has taken a workshop or course with me is invited to submit original, unpublished work in Spanish for consideration to: tolteca@ anacastillo.com. Fall submission deadline is July 1, 2014. La Tolteca 'Zine is published twice a year. The Spring Solstice issue for 2015 will be on the theme of healing. Deadline: February 1, 2015. We hope you enjoy the following pages. They are our gift to you in support of emerging and established writers and artists. Happy and joyful spring. Wherever you are, where you go, remember: ¡Sí se puede!
Editor-in-chief and Publisher
Left to right: Ana Castillo, Dolores Huerta, and Lorna Dee Cervantes at the Memorial for José Montoya, February 2014 in Sacramento, California.
Patricia Quintana, USA ©2014
For the Love of Emilia García
Frida : Emilia Garcίa & Robert Valadez
(b. 1952) has exhibited her paintings in Los Angeles and Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, the Amsterdam Whitney International Gallery of Fine Art, Chelsea, New York and at the Fifth Annual International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy. Since participating in the Biennale, she continues to exhibit her work throughout the U.S. and internationally as a member of the International Biennale Artist Group. Of her work the artist says: “I try to convey images that speak of strength and love through family and celebration all the while focusing on the spirit of women. Although my influence has been from the great Mexican Masters, my inspiration comes from my grandmother’s love and her presence within me.” www.burnttortilla.com
“Con este corazón” Emilia Garcia, USA ©2014
Artist/Muralist Robert Valadez (b. 1962) has been active in the Midwest Chicano art scene for nearly 30 years. He hails from Chicago’s Pilsen community, one of the city’s largest Mexican neighborhoods. His works reflect his bicultural roots, taking cues from both Mexican and American pop culture imagery. Robert also views his work as a vehicle to affect social change and to create dialogue. “An artist must be more than an outside observer or a social critic. He has to be right in the thick of it, a participant.” Valadez has received numerous mural commissions including artwork for Nescafe Inc., the city of Sterling Illinois, Miller Light, and The Archdiocese of Chicago. The Shrine of St. Jude/Claretian Publications Inc. (a Catholic order) selected Valadez to paint his own interpretation of La Virgen de Guadalupe, which they use in their global ministry efforts. He has also exhibited work at the National Museum of Mexican Art on numerous occasions. Currently Robert is collaborating with No Manches Clothing Co. with designs and product development. www.robertvaladez.com
“As for Frida... she’s my girl... talk about a crush... I’ve been exploring her as this sort of flexible icon....” – Robert Valadez
“Frida” Robert Valadez, USA ©2014
“Frida became my therapy and I began to make changes in my work. No longer worried about exposing my feelings I opened the eyes of the women I would paint.” – Emilia Garcia
“Frida 1938” Emilia Garcia, USA ©2014
“SurFrida” Emilia García, USA ©2014
LASonnet ContTOL est Winners 12
Carmen Tafolla, former San
Antonio Poet Laureate. Her most recent book of poetry This River Here: Poems of San Antonio was released by Wings Press (San Antonio) this month.
Poet Evelina Lucero, member of
Isleta Pueblo, serves as the Creative Writing Department Chair at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Poet Nicasio Urbina serves as
Romance Languages and Literature Department Chair at the University of Cincinnati. He co-edited the anthology, Poetas de las dos Granadas (Two editions: Academia Nicaraguense de la Lengua and Festival Internacional de PoesĂa de Granada, January, 2014).
‘Our Hearts, the Way They Were’ by Steven Romero
In Spain, I’ve been told, a feral sunrise is extracted from irreverent pastures like blood from a bull conquered, swift and sure, and never ferments, unlike that of Christ.
Somewhere among seeds of carnal fervor in a Ukranian bakery, I can’t decide between pumpernickel and rye until I’m met with the subtle flavor of bread more coarsely ground and slowly baked, tender as the words siempre eras tú. I ruminate on blood and tempered clay, on labored love and loaves of cruel half-truths.
I slice my life in two and eat alone. Time reveals a face for which I can’t atone.
Steven Romero is a Developmental English and GED Instructor at Central New Mexico Community College. He is headed toward an MFA program in hopes that his writing and spirit may strengthen.
For Dimi by Isela Ocegueda
Unlike any other thing In reality or in dream… Did it sing or did it sting? It did both, as it would seem.
Beyond ourselves, it was sublime-We knew not what to do. Sheltered from external time, The world was me and you.
That world now drifts in meadows and trees, Strays in swirls of receding waves. It sits on my whispers of “come back please” And resides in my far-off gaze.
It burrows itself in the caves of my mind, In a deal with my heart: hide away and be kind.
Isela Ocegueda hails from Texas. She earned her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2010. Her dream is to write with words that will resonate in the hearts and minds of others.
The Past and Future of the Octet and Sestet by Albert Moritz, Ph.D.
hat’s the sonnet today, and does it truly persist? I’ve often thought that should it ever die out, its death would only be apparent. Many short poems have about the length of the sonnet, and its basic arrangement. (Arrangements, plural, I should say, though they’re all near akin.) So if the form proper died out, its spirit would live. Probably, then, the form itself is a symbolic expression of basic inner actions and shapes of life. This makes it interestingly related to the nature-nurture debate which is at the heart of our times, because it’s at the heart of our uncertainty and our determination: whether there is freedom, and on the other hand whether there is anything to believe that has substance. Nature may create nurture and nurture creates nature, and so the sonnet may both reflect and have helped create the basic forms of feeling it mirrors. In this way it seems to correspond well to the tension between security and adventure… Myself, I don’t write the sonnet. To be accurate: rarely. I feel that its formalization of the shape of feeling lacks responsiveness. Many great twentieth-century poets, from Juan Ramón Jiménez to Czeslaw Milosz, grew suspicious of formal poetry as being too cordoned off from freshness. I tend to agree. The sestina seems the worst: it can start off as a poem but by the third stanza it has turned into an anxious duty. The sonnet may continue to live because of all the specific forms, it is the least crippling, and in this respect too provides a suggestive co-presence of imposition and naturalness. I don’t see the sonnet proper flourishing much in the U.S. There are Mark Jarman’s holy sonnets. In Canada, where we have a stronger contemporary sonnet tradition, a Canadian sort of new formalism arose about fifteen years ago. Compared to the American movement that created the term, the Canadian variety was from its beginning much more open to the 16
freedom acquired during the twentieth century. Its real similarity to American new formalism was in the call for a revolt against flaccid free forms, and in favor of energetic employment of all poetic resources on the sonic and formal side: no more drift toward thinking that story or proclaimed emotion broken into lines was sufficient. Among the young Canadian poets, a part of the sonnet’s currency is due to its continued flourishing in the UK and Ireland, especially in the work of Heaney. Much of the best new poetry in Canada looks for its immediate forebears to Heaney and Ted Hughes and to Hopkins, who was of course an audacious sonneteer. This trend, as condensed in the sonnet, is on display in a good anthology by Zach Wells’s Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets (2008). No sooner was there a sonnet than poets wrote groups of them to escape the limits. They became something like stanzas, though remaining whole poems. So, though we think rightly of In Memoriam and Song of Myself as the Homeric poems of the modern poetic sequence (along with Les Fleurs du mal, in another sense), it’s also right to take the development back farther, to the sonnet sequence, and not only Shakespeare’s. And saying that allows me to end by mentioning one consummate American transformation of the sonnet and the sonnet sequence as a long poem: one of the best of American books, Powers of Thirteen by John Hollander, who just left us last August 17. Me, I think I’ll continue to prefer the sonnet-like poem that is more malleable, while remaining grateful to the sonnet itself for being there as a tradition to join when inspiration selects it.
Poet Albert F. Moritz is the Coloring Professor of the Arts and Society at Victoria College, University of Toronto.
The reflections in the following pages come from our staff, contributors, and workshopistas >
Photo: Ana Castillo, USA ÂŠ2014
Reflections On The Ripple Effect by Ama Billi Free
The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud’homme Scribner Press, 2012 448 pgs, $10.80
On my home turf of New Mexico and during my world travels, I’ve always been drawn to the closest source of water. Whether that be the ocean, lake, or river my being yearns to be refreshed viscerally. Through the global evaporation process I know that all those I think of will eventually come into contact with the same water. Now, as I look out across the beautiful desert landscape upon which I dwell, I imagine the very real millions of gallons of water beneath the ground waiting in aquifers, ready to replenish. No one ever told me how important the security of Earth’s water was to humanity. No one had to but I also did not think that anyone needed to be told. While reading Alex Prud’homme’s The Ripple Effect it is now obvious that there are several (namely, corporations and politicians) that did not get the “memo” or, at least, did not care to read it. So here it is: When water is taken from its source too quickly or is seriously contaminated the balance of the entire planet is not only compromised but it is very difficult, and increasingly leaning towards impossible, to return its clarity. As time moves forward we continue to feel the
intensity of this imbalance in varying ways. In the book, it became apparent to me how social, economic and geographic disparities are reflected through current water use, quality control and infrastructural restrictions. In the Southwest, for example, corporate interests pump water over thousands of miles from California to water-thirsty towns. Meanwhile, preparing for population spikes, local lawmakers attempt to manage (or perhaps mismanage) already heavily rationed water. In the East, foreign bottled water companies deal with disgruntled American communities as they set up their production plants, often times without input from or consideration of residents. The Chesapeake Bay is plagued by dead zones, areas altered from chemical dumping to the point where oxygen and, therefore, other life forms are unable to thrive; the phenomenon is heavily affecting the fishing industry there. The Gulf of Mexico is still dealing with the effects of both contamination from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon exploratory well drilling site, releasing untold gallons of oil, sludge and methane gas and the faulty (but federally approved) levee structures that failed to protect the city of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. These
Vieques, Puerto Rico Ama Billi Free, USA ©2014
devastating consequences due to all manner of political corruption continue to run rampant. Reading about these instances and the others dissected in The Ripple Effect made me realize that the potentially devastating circumstances of our clean water are not isolated to the United States. Water is being poisoned and drained on just about every coast and in each waterway around the planet. After reading compelling page after page of news reports, interviews, investigations and case studies that underscore the causes behind just some of our worst water transgressions and their distressing effects, I found Prud’homme attempting to shine some light on the subject. There were, of course, concerned citizens, experts and organizations working on efforts
and making discoveries with the potential to remedy these situations. However, my relief was temperate. Apparently, these geographical, social and economic dilemmas are so idiosyncratic that they truly challenge current proposed solutions. It made me wish that I could be more optimistic about the future of water. For now, I head to my nearest water source—hot mineral springs. As my hand makes ripples across the surface I meditate on the protection of Earth’s water and hope that the thought and the intention might reach those who can help provide that, for all of our sakes.
Natural Hot Springs Faywood, New Mexico Ama Billi Free, USA ©2014
Mud And Puddles In Mugera by Patricia Crisafulli
e took to the high ground, walking at the edge of where shaggy cornstalks grew, to avoid getting mud on our shoes. In that sodden place, water ran in ruts and pooled in indentations—evidence of an underground spring that bubbled to the surface in the tiny settlement of Mugera in northern Rwanda, on the other side of the hill from Uganda. We’d gone there in the summer of 2013, my collegeage son, Patrick, and I, as volunteers to visit and film preschool child development centers(the name far grander than the facilities), where three- to five-yearold children receive basic instruction in Kinyarwanda and English. In 18 out of 217 child centers operated by the Anglican Diocese of Shyira, preschoolers also receive hard-boiled eggs, thanks to American sponsors, to infuse protein into deficient diets to promote physical and cognitive development.
dengue fever. No wonder the wooden shutters in the schoolroom were only open a crack to let in a little light through the square holes that served as windows. I held onto that bottle, but did not break the seal. I could not drink in front of these children with their wide eyes and distended bellies, wearing second-hand clothing—t-shirts imprinted with Hannah Montana and Sponge Bob. Yet to do so would have been more truthful and respectful of this enormous gift, because the people of Mugera understood the needs of their visitors, especially the three Mzungu in their L.L.Bean clothing. They knew that drinking from the local water source would sicken any outsiders before they made their way back to Musanze, the nearest city. Yes, they knew the problem because they lived it every day, in the mud and puddles of Mugera. ☐
But there were no eggs to deliver in Mugera, because it didn’t have a sponsor. And so we went, impotent ambassadors with empty hands who had no other purpose than to witness the need—the “before” picture of the egg project. With us were Susan, a big-hearted American volunteer in Rwanda who drove us farther along that rutted track into Mugera than should have been possible in an old Ford Explorer, and two Rwandan ministers, Christophe and Caliste. Inside the mud-brick Mugera center, preschoolers crowded onto wooden benches, feet shuffling against the dirt floor, as they showed off their repertoire of songs and alphabet rhymes. As they sang “Jesus Loves Me,” one of the teachers slipped out through a back door, and returned with a wooden tray. On it were six sealed bottles of water, their sides damp with condensation, one for each visitor. As I was given a bottle, I thought of the water puddle outside, hoping it was runoff from a spring and not the source itself. I imagined parasites and amoebas, and clouds of mosquitoes carrying malaria and 20
Photo: Patricia Crisafulli, USA ©2014 Patricia Crisafulli (Workshopista, Chicago, 2013) is the co-author, with Andrea Redmond, of Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World (PalgraveMacmillan, 2013)
Raíz Sin Agua by Dulcinea M. Lara
ooking through pictures of the dry Rio Grande, my favorite is a wide shot of the parched riverbed with a tiny speck in the distance. My one-and-a-halfyear-old daughter, Raíz, walks toward me wearing red tights and a black pea coat. Her name derives from her parents’ love for this region of the world. She reminds us of our farmworking families and anchors us to this place, even if we should one day have to uproot. In the photo, Raíz holds fat handfuls of brownishgrey clay. Mi’jita, child of at least five generations of valley people, periodically squats to pick up fistfuls of tierra. She curiously tilts her head to watch sand fall from hand to earth. She’s young and already learning about gravity and soil and, also subtly— climate change, politics, greed, and racism. Playing my mamá role, I repeatedly tell her, “Este es un río—a river!”
treads made by high-speed recreational vehicles. Broken beer-bottle-glass belies the ancient stories of gentle irrigation that carried her waters to fields of maíz, frijol, chile, calabaza. Leftover bonfire ashes contradict the power of water to overcome flame and soothe destruction. Raíz sees all these abnormal river marks and I personally vow to recount the other stories—those that precede manmade, unnatural versions of this precious water vein. She will learn how politics and culture wars have devastated and dried out our beloved rio. She wriggles, feet-under-knees, and lies flat on her stomach. Then Raíz presses her cheek to the cold and hard, but beating ground. This small space on the vast body of her madre tierra whispers heart-rending stories…of corporate farms pumping thousands of water gallons her abuelo farmer, Antonio, can no longer access. Tales of nation/state power struggles that determine rights to riverblood, lifeblood.
When I was her age, the river was full and fierce. Our parents warned us with stories of La Llorona and deadly undercurrents. When my abuelo Samuel was Raíz’s age, the river flooded seasonally and people used boats to cross to neighboring It seems she can’t be close pueblos. Now, my daughter plays in “Raíz” Dulcinea M. Lara, USA © 2014 enough. I watch, lovingly, as my the residue of what once was. daughter starts burrowing with her ungloved, baby hands. Her smart, red and black It feels peculiar when I name this vast path of sand— Christmas outfit turns powdery with soft, brown-grey ‘río.’ Río won’t match my baby’s storybook images of clay dust. She is serious and intent. Her eyes, focused. blue, flowing water teeming with fish. As her guide Her brow, furrowed. She clenches her fists, grabbing to the world I worry as I recall Gloria Anzaldúa’s apt clay where once there flowed water. I sense she knows description of this río as an herida, a wound. Raíz what used to be here. We stay a while. plops down playfully on the cracked riverbed. I watch her; I quietly photograph her. I selfishly wish I could Dulcinea M. Lara is an Associate Professor at NMSU, Las Cruces. watch my child play like this forever. This rio, that historically provided abundant life nourishment, now bears the crisscross of thick tire
Our Ranchito by Janine Stubbs
wenty years ago my husband and I moved to our country home away from the city of Austin, Texas to semi-retire in the clean quiet country. The ranchito dates back to a Spanish Land Grant. Since my husband and I both had health issues (my asthma and his heart problems), we believed this move would lengthen our lives. The real benefit was the clean water drawn from our Artesian well. It tasted sweet and was a welcome relief from the Austin water at our previous home, which tasted like algae and was tainted with fluoride. Most of the time our two ponds were filled with clean water from the rains. Our little creek washed up new discoveries of arrowheads and sometimes scrapers left behind by earlier dwellers.
which we were in charge. Little did we know that these resources would eventually compete with one another.
Today, Texas beaches are vulnerable to the oil spills from wells off shore in the Gulf of Mexico, some times washing up from Mexico and Louisiana. According to reports, Nueces County does a fairly good job of scraping up the Padre Island beaches weekly. But oil companies are polluting more inland with the recent oil boom, following little or no regulations at all. Using infrared cameras, environmentalists have kept track of the oil wells and plants releasing the toxic gases and foul air. They trace the increased cases of asthma and cancer patients that live near these facilities. The recent oil boom When I grew up in Yoakum, ten in Texas is connected to the Eagle miles away, my stepfather Reuben Ford Shale where they have found had been city manager for many massive amounts of oil and gas. years. Also, he was in charge of the It’s the most talked about oil field water plants and sewage for the discovery in years. The shale is city. He often attended meetings in located from the Mexican border Austin to plan for the city's utilities. to Louisiana. It is 400 miles long I went with him when he made the and 50 miles wide, normally “Our Ranchito Creek” Janine Stubbs, USA ©2014 rounds of the water plants to check deep in the ground. The heavy oil their efficiency several times a week. trucks carrying the new found oil Although this was in the 1950s, he understood the zoom down the highways right and left, causing a large importance of water conservation. He taught me how number of accidents and tearing up the highways and important it is to conserve water and appreciate it as a county roads. The Texas Legislature helps some, but not valuable resource. He gave tours of the water plant to nearly enough, causing county governments to carry visiting high school seniors and gave short conservation most of the economic load in repairs for their roads. lectures, as well. Another resource he was extremely interested in was oil. Stepdad knew how important oil In order to reach this oil a fairly new technology is used, was to the development of our country. Before he died called Hydraulic Fracking, creating fractures in rocks he set up a trust for his siblings and family to protect and rock formations, making it accessible. The pipes all mineral interests in the homestead lands. We were inject a mixture of sand and water into the cracks to force instructed never to sell the mineral rights to land for the underground to open further. A major problem is 22
Patricia Quintana, USA ©2014
the massive use of fresh water, not to mention the fact, that the chemicals used, do not have to be identified, a result of a loophole in the Bush/Cheney Energy Policy Act (2005). Environmentalists are concerned about the copious amounts of water used to reach the depths of the oil in Eagle Ford Shale. They are also addressing the matter of toxic waste that leaks from storage wells and contaminate aquifers and water tables and then makes its way up the food chain. Moreover, recent studies find that 20% of the water in the Eagle Ford Shale counties are being used for fracking and are experiencing some of the worst droughts in decades. Shortages of water have motivated the oil companies to search for more water and pay higher prices. The people who own the mineral rights are smiling as they deposit more wealth in banks than these counties and their families have ever experienced. Now, there are many more millionaires in Texas. Some of these people were hard-working farmers and some were on the brink of bankruptcy in the ranching business because of the long droughts. When I bring up the threat of pollution from the wells, the new millionaires shrug their shoulders. My husband and I always said that our best investment was our ranchito. It increased in value many times
over in the forty-three years that we’ve owned it. It’s paid for and we’ve leased it to oil companies several times with rewarding results. Although, our ranchito is surrounded by oil wells, there are none on it, yet. It may be a blessing because we still have clean water from our well. Dealing with oil companies is not an easy win, as far as pollution goes, because of their freedom to work with few regulations in the state of Texas. The Eagle Ford Shale exploration has been helpful to our Texas job market because of the demand for more workers. We do not have the high unemployment that other states have and for which Governor Rick Perry brags unrealistically that he has brought more jobs to Texas than has any other governor. In the race to become energy independent many countries will be looking at the problems that we have faced with Eagle Ford Shale production. Someone once said that water will be the oil of the 21st Century and will be the world’s most fought over resource. Hopefully, with the help of environmentalists who encourage the government to look out for our common interests, people will understand there are limits to clean water and we all need to take a responsibility in protecting it. Janine Stubbs, workshopista, San Antonio, 2010 . She blogs at http://janine-stubbs.blogspot.com/
So Much Water, We Did Not See It by Patricia Crisafulli
he Iroquois called it “pouring out place,” the literal translation of the name, “Oswego,” my hometown in northern New York State, where the Oswego River meets Lake Ontario. Replete with marinas, salmon fishing, and a commercial port for cargo vessels, the community sits on the shores of the last of the five Great Lakes, the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, covering more than 750 miles from west to east. Water there teems and streams; inexhaustible, even during the longest, hottest, and driest summer months. My experience growing up there was that we had so much water everywhere, we did not see it—except, perhaps, for the bright blue days when sailboats appeared on the lake, or gray stormy ones when waves crashed over the breakwater. Nor did we notice the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), mercury, dioxin, and a toxic soup of other chemicals that infused the water and ended up in the fish and fowl. We flushed the worst of our world (and not just what went down the sewer) into a global treasure that accounts for 21% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water. Because we never worried about running out of water, we foolishly took the supply of it for granted, and, worse yet, allowed the Great Lakes to become a dumping ground for industrial waste. Four decades ago, experts and government agencies on both sides of the northern border began to intervene, as Earth Day consciousness was raised. By the time I was in high school in the mid-to-late 1970s, chemical concentrations in fish and wildlife had become front page news. We didn’t know what PCBs were, exactly, but certainly didn’t want them in our fish. The International Joint Commission’s 2013 report on Great Lakes water quality chronicles incremental improvement in the level of toxic chemicals present in the environment, and a decrease in “atmospheric deposition” (presumably, chemical-infused rain). Bad news now seems a little less so: Concentrations of flame retardant (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or 24
“Sies Cientos Veinte” (detail) by Emilia García, USA ©2014
PBDEs) found in fish, levels that had doubled every few years from 1980s to 2000, have started to decline. However, lake trout populations, while stable due to stocking, remain below ideal levels. A tiny shrimp-like creature, diporeia, that is a food source for many fish and an important link in the aquatic feeding chain, has almost disappeared. Global climate change is hitting the Great Lakes, with more frequent harmful blooms of algae. And on it goes. If droughts and wildfires on the U.S. West Coast, or cycles of drought and famine in Africa, have not made the point, then consider the prognosis of economists who believe that the geopolitical battles of the future will be waged over a resource even more precious than petroleum: water. Over-consumption beyond the sustainability of the environment is only part of the issue. The far greater problem is our own myopia, of not seeing the dangers of extracting so much groundwater from parched areas that salts leach to the surface; and, where water is prodigiously present, of failing to see the need to preserve this abundance in a chain of truly great lakes. ☐ International Joint Commission (2013). Assessment of Progress Made Toward Restoring and Maintaining Great Lakes Water Quality Since 1987. http://ijc.org/files/publications/16thBE_internet%20 20130509.pdf Patricia Crisafulli’s (Workshopista, Chicago, 2013) collection of short stories and essays, Inspired Every Day (Hallmark) will be released in March 2014. She is also the co-author of Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2013)
Can There Be Water Without Power?
WATER & POWER tells the story of two brothers nicknamed Water & Power by their hardworking father who was an irrigation field man for the famed Department of Water & Power of Los Angeles (LADWP). From the blue-collar housing projects of the cityâ€™s Eastside to the corridors of power where deals are made in the City of Angels, WATER & POWER explores a cautionary tale with a Chicano twist. WATER (ENRIQUE MURCIANO) is a rising political star and California state senator. POWER (NICHOLAS GONZALEZ) is a top cop in the LAPD elite upper chain of command. Following a tragedy, the brothers find themselves in a seedy motel room on the eastern edge of Sunset Boulevard on a dark and rainy night. Will they remember the tough love lessons taught to them by their hard-working father? Water & Power is written by Richard Montoya (of Culture Clash renown). The film is also his directorial debut and will be released in theaters nationwide on May 2, 2014.
Going With the Flow: A Photo Memoir by Patricia Quintana
he acequia system is a form of irrigation technology brought to Spain by the Moors during their centurieslong occupancy. The spanish word acequia comes from classical Arabic “as-saqiya,” which means, “one that bears water.” In the U.S. the oldest acequia systems were established 400 years ago by the Spanish in northern New Mexico and south central Colorado. The acequia farming culture is all about land, water, family and community. It is vital to having a strong economic base, ecosystems, healthy plant and wildlife habitat, and more importantly, it encourages the conservation of a strong land and water ethic, in other words, “a sense of place.”
The ‘Art of Moving Water’ in Northern New Mexico
“Moving water is a very meditative experience. It is Zen, healing, an art form in itself. There was a time when the Pueblo and gente helped each other, shared, came together around the land. These two young men are from the Pueblo and have been an integral part of restoring Rancho La Fina.”
“Carrying the water from the venita to the field.”
Ancient Engineering: La Canova en Rancho La Fina “Esta canova is on a venita that delivers water from the Acequia Madre to the rest of Rancho La Fina.”
“La Compuerta at the Headwaters of La Acequia Madre Sur del Rio de Don Fernando.”
Acequia Madre Sur del Rio de Don Fernando In Taos “This is the Acequia I irrigate off.”
“Nuestra Madre Tierra in her neglected and abandoned form.”
“La Tierra Madre breathing and drinking water after years of neglect.” 30
“She is brown, golden brown, when the sun caresses. She is resilient and strong, ready to give.”
‘Canova’ in Trampas, New Mexico
“Ancient technology for moving water from one place to another.” Patricia Quintana (Española and Taos Workshopista, 2011 & 2012) is a shepherdess and farmer in Taos, New Mexico.
FICTION by Ignatius Valentine Aloysius
he rain is everything—it has come, secure and thunderous and firm as crows’ nests in such a tangle. Billions of drumbeats bursting into earth, now crashing, pounding. Not your music, this rain, not your music. But its order plays those tricks on you again again, and bless-ed be Jesus, child, but do you even know just how you’ll cope, how you’ll? Crack the city, dump on it, why bother. Mumbai’s unlit, starved of light and tortured by it, the rain, and you can feel the wetness spike across your pores, attacking; feel the wetness spike a crisis through your clenched abandoned reddened heart, as small as young at ten, you. Dust, like infinite mites those tiniest of kites, gets pushed about and up from low below beneath your toes, the rain it does that; it’s vivid, unkind, too unkind, as far as you’re saying anything about it. Your nose stings, accepts the singeing drops and dust all mixed in some kind of misery together, you can taste its curse on your unwilling tongue— it is so. Nights are worrisome most of all, at night you’ll find it hard to sleep well, hard to. The rain is everything, three days straight, is everything— morning’s heat is an ongoing threat, it reaches you like a prison. You’re about to leave for school in dark shorts, and shirt (half-sleeved, a hue of sky), and tie of Prussian blue with two diagonal stripes in yellow. Old unfit unpolished shoes, and socks a kind of white, against your skin, a white, okay, white-ish. “Manna,” grandmother persists, she calls you that. “Manna, wear your raincoat right, child. It goes on your back, not on your head.”
Photo: Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA ©2014
You’ve wrapped the plastic raincoat package-like around those books of yours, and now you laugh at what she says because you know she’ll never raise a finger on you, hasn’t yet, although you deserve it, although her meddling tattling watchful ways embrace you and even choke you, though those words have never left your lips but struck a raging fire, gawd, with your eyes. You’ll go get your caning yet, you’re thinking that, you’re thinking. Rain’s about to make you late, the ground, a pail, and water’s filling faster than your breakfast bowl of oatmeal, say, it’s porridge. Water’s about to drag those feet, your socks and shoes, like molasses. “Mother, do you see your child?” Grandmother goes again. “Let him be. He’ll get wet. It’s what he likes,” mother says with casualness. She’ll be pushing off to work about the same unreasonable hour, but you go first, she will watch you leave, the one assuring routine life’s a sight for. Off you go with grey a deep and pallid grey of shower, light, surrounding chest and bum and bones, your cheeks your mind now flushed with dread, one desperate attempt to reach the school’s asphyxiating gates, it feels like that, the learning. Books on top, the raincoat, too, your head’s in balance, one arm bending upward cup-like, keeping things alright. But soon the arm’s a downspout. You can’t help it. Water’s a bit aggressive, knee-high now and pushing, yawing slightly down the only road to school for almost three fantastic miles along the famous golf course, cutting through it, winding; you, alone now, shops and people, few loose dogs, an afterthought; the floating rubbish going elsewhere.
Water’s thigh-high sometime later. Keep going, keep it up, you think, your clothes amuck with rain, and rain descending like needles. Still, you must arrive. But then it’s there, the drop in front of you, the road that’s giving you the finger, cleanly banking. How’re you going to manage this abrupt submerging? “Step in, don’t fight it,” you say, afraid, your flesh convulsing, pickled. What you must do, so you walk in, pressed against the spate that’s at your ribs and rising, chest-high. Further up, about to pass before you, on its side, a drowned and bloating ox, the strangest thing; and there it comes along, the water’s taking turning showing death’s illicit maw before your very eyes, those eyes you won’t shut for anything this world has to offer, not now not yet. Inches from your face, the kayoed beast sails past, at large, a punching bag for God, yes—gone, like never there like your father, seeing him a little, though not enough to miss him. Little do you know about this water, what it tears away from who knows where and hurtles through this part of town, the whole deluged condition. Little do you know when something touches, flicks your shoulder, that’s a live and futile snake, a thick one right behind the ox in search of some secure level. Fast ripples, fast on water. Damning. Startled, you recoil and drop your arm— the wrapped books plunge and hit the water, then you almost lose your footing. Hurry, hurry. Splashing grabbing, all that matters is that you should save the books, and you are quick like Ali, Cassius Clay, a stinging bee, the hero you silently look up to. Sure, but your books…Were you quick enough, so were you? Don’t begin to unwrap anything. That’ll be unsound. (Continued on next page)
“Get as far from this,” you say, and then you move on, move until the water slips towards your ankles once again, but you are soaked like bread in a crow’s bath and that’s an awful feeling. You are almost there, you, then and only when you trudge past the gates eventually, the sound of water squishing drowning both your feet in those unpolished shoes is loud in those revered unspeaking hallways. There’s your drips like cherry bombs, and knowing you are late is very cruel. He waits, weighs you down, the Principal at ease and on his feet around the corner, that ballooning cassock, white hair, fingers flushed with power, too thick. This must mean something then, you know, for he’s with his red pen, and well-oiled cane inside his long sleeve at the ready.
Hold your hands out, hands out then up, his cane’s tip will nudge you. Open them, now that’s a small request, a simple task you’ll do now. All the problems in your world spinning down to these few cuts, descending hard and quickly. Then you free your books from the raincoat, unpack it right there beside your feet and pooling rainwater. Inside, it’s dry as feathers. ☐ Ignatius Valentine Aloysius (Workshopista, Chicago 2013) is pursuing his MFA in the Creative Writing program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He is a fiction reader at TriQuarterly (www.triquarterly.org).
Photo: Ana Castillo, USA ©2014
SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE STRUGGLE OVER WATER IN THE RIO GRANDE by Paul McLennan
he boundary between Mexico and the United States is defined literally by water—the Rio Grande River. Disputes over land and resources along this border are nothing new. They date back to 1846 and the MexicanAmerican War which ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty resulted in the annexation of more than half (960,000 square miles) of Mexican national territory including what is today California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. This historical context enlightens our understanding of the present day fight over scarce water resources in the region.
The limited water resources of the Rio Grande basin have been over-developed in order to provide water for irrigated agriculture, industry, and the growing municipalities. The combined population of both sides of the Lower Rio Grande basin is expected to increase from about 5 million to 11 million by 2030. Contributing to this population boom has been the maquiladoras, the low wage, light assembly factories that exploit labor and pollute the environment. There are now about 3000 of these plants employing close to 1 million people. The rapid growth and industrialization along the border area has put severe stress on schools, roads and, especially, water and wastewater infrastructure.
In 1944, another agreement called the “Treaty of the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande,” was signed. It dictates that Mexico must deliver a minimum annual average of 350,000 acre feet of water from tributaries to the Rio Grande in cycles of five years unless “extreme drought” conditions in Mexico make the delivery impossible. Under the same treaty, the U.S. delivers Colorado River water to the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.
Another factor is the extreme inequity in the use of water. Per capital municipal water consumption in Mexican municipalities is generally only about one-half the rates in Texas. This difference is largely the result of much higher water use in the U.S. for large irrigators, landscaping, and swimming pools. One of the biggest barriers to change in policy is agribusiness which is driven by the need for profit without regard to the consequences to the environment or depletion of natural resources.
The Treaty says Mexico must “repay” water in subsequent years when it fails to provide the minimum over the five year cycle. Because of extremely dry conditions, Mexico is currently 38% behind in its obligation. A weakness in the wording of the treaty has revealed itself in recent years - “extreme drought” - was not specifically defined. This has caused dispute about whether the period of reduced rainfall in the Mexican state of Chihuahua over the last few years, for example, is the type of drought recognized by the treaty.
Mexican water officials are working to finalize a new set of rules which would require a set aside of water for the Rio Grande but scarcity, sustainability, and an equitable distribution of water resources will continue to be issues.
Paul McLennan (Workshopista, Chicago 2009) is an activist in Georgia.
Above: Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, with student activists in San Antonio, fighting to stop TX HB1128 and SB1938, which would have effectively dismantled Mexican American Studies. Photo: Zeke Perez, USA ©2014 (Alamo)
The Making of the Librotraficantes By Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante
We didn’t ask to become Librotraficantes. However, when Jan Brewer and the far Republican Right of Arizona banned Mexican American Studies we become book smugglers. Myself and four other members of Houston based Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say organized the ‘2012 Librotraficante Caravan’ to ‘smuggle the books banned in Arizona back to Tucson. Some argue that the books were not banned because they were not eradicated from all parts of the city. We’ll let the Supreme Court decide that. But let’s make this clear: We have brilliantly trained ‘literature smugglers.’ Our works will never disappear, and we will never tolerate policies that keep books from our community. It turned out the Librotraficante Movement was the tip of the pyramid. And we unleashed a national movement. Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say (NP) is the base. I founded NP in April of 1998. NP began with monthly readings featuring nationally published authors alongside writers from the community. Right from the beginning, people said that there were not enough authors to feature or enough interest to develop an 36
audience. We have been thrilled to prove all those folks wrong. NP’s literal mission was to promote Latino literature and literacy. Little did we suspect that in 2012 we would literally add defending literature to our mission. Luckily, we had cultivated that very team. We were already practicing becoming Librotraficantes by starting the NP Radio Show in 2002 which still broadcasts during prime time at 100,000 watts on 90.1 FM KPFT. This helped us broaden our audience, as we further developed our national network of authors, publishers, activists, and on and on. We also organized the largest book fairs in Texas for any group. We got good at doing things people told us were impossible for our community. The five organizers of the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle the banned books back into Tucson were Librotraficante La Laura aka Laura Acosta; Librotraficante Lilo aka Liana Lopez, Librotraficante High Tech Aztecaka Bryan Parras, and Librotraficante Lips Mendez aka Lupe Mendez. And I’m Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante. If we were a band, I’d be the lead singer. We are now part of a national movement defending Ethnic Studies and Freedom of Speech.
If you have not heard about any of this, it’s because The Anti-Ethnic Studies Movement has not made as much news as the “anti-immigrant movement’ in this country of recent times. And believe me, it IS a Movement. There is definitely an attack on Ethnic Studies being orchestrated nationwide. Presently, three major Chicano populated U.S. Border States are in a struggle: Arizona, California, and Texas. Right now, in what was long considered the bastion of Chicano Studies-California, Ethnic Studies is under attack via privatization, and a sophisticated use of Donutlegislation meant to encircle and intimidate professors, de-fund departments, and dismantle Ethnic Studies. This coming fall Tucson students and teachers are taking their case to the 9th District Court of appeals to defend every American’s Freedom of Speech and overturn AZHB2281. You can get updates at www. saveethnicstudies.org. It will be a huge moment in history. The nation will know that Chicanos stood up for everyone’s freedom of speech. By studying the tactics of the Far Right Republican Party in Arizona, we have been able to score major victories in Texas, the home of the Librotraficante Movement. In March of 2013, we organized a Statewide coalition to stop Texas SB1128 and HB1938 which would have effectively dismantled Mexican American History in colleges.
for implementation in high schools. The next phase of that campaign comes to head this April 9 in Austin, Texas. The Republican chair of the TX SBOE is blocking a vote on that curriculum. We are pushing to make her let the vote happen. We must not let the Republican Party shut down Mexican American History. At the same time as we fight this direct oppression and win, we are also adding Mexican American Studies programs to colleges and high schools, and also empowering our community by opening Under Ground Libraries throughout the nation. We will win. And our history and culture must never be at the whim of a political party ever again Welcome to the 21st century Chican@ Renaissance. Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante is the Director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-North Harris, Houston, Tejaztllán www.librotraficante.com www.MASTexas.org
Last fall, that same coalition inspired the Texas State Board of Education (TX SBOE) to add Mexican American Studies to the list of courses to be approved
“TX & US Flags” Zeke Perz © 2014
From left to right: Texas State Rep Roberto Alonzo, Dagobeto Gilb and Tony Diaz
book review Sueño by Lorna Dee Cervantes Wings Press, San Antonio, 2014 Paperback, 128 pp A review by Eduardo Vidaurre Spending some time with Lorna Dee Cervantes in my truck. She’s tossing pecan shells out the window as I turn the pages of her dreams. It’s 65 degrees with a wind that blows through our conversation as she braids her hair showing me her heartshaped scars that tell of wet feet and a milk that does not lie. I can carry this great Chicana with me wherever I go. Opening up the pages to Sueño, her fifth major collection of poems, I savored each poem and read each one over again. In ‘Fear of Death’ I found myself gasping for Martha: “Martha had a fear of death, she wouldn’t sleep for the child still caught in her throat...” (Sueño does that!) Just as Langston Hughes and Juan Felipe Herrera had, Cervantes’ words jumped out at me and gave me fortaleza as a poet. Lorna held nothing back. She peeled the skin off of mother earth inside out, wrote about it, stitched it back together and still had enough poetic prowess to continue the mastery of language. Brain food made with tortillas de maíz, the slap I felt in Language from her grandmother and her true Leo self shells out a powerful poem with 'Hips Hitting The Floor.' The ode to her love in ‘Integrity’ shows her wisdom and heart as a poet and lover, “I love the way we fit together as if I were your seed.” There was never a time after reading this book, whether in spurts or long coffee shop visits, that I did not put it down and smile. Cervantes weaves the Native back into us with her selflessness, wisdom and energy. Learn how good sleep sounds. ¡Dulces Sueños!
Eduardo Vidaurre’s poetry collection I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip (Slough Press) was released in 2013.
book review Song of the Golden Scorpion By Alma Luz Villanueva Wings Press, San Antonio, 2013 454 pages, $17.95 A review by Cristina Herrera, Ph.D.
Is this the deepest sacred play? the narrator asks in Alma Luz Villanueva’s 2013 novel Song of the Golden Scorpion. This question serves as a constant refrain throughout the narrative as it unfolds the erotic love story between the 58 year-old Chicana, Xochiquetzal, and her 34 year-old Mexican lover, Javier, who meet at a resort in the Mexican beach town of Bucerias on the impending date of 12/21/12, the Mayan Sixth World and what many falsely believed to be the end of the world. For the Maya, and indeed for Villanueva’s cast of characters, December 21, 2012 signals the beginning of a new calendar, a call for humanity to improve itself through the “deepest sacred play,” love in action. Readers of Villanueva’s earlier novels should be familiar with the writer’s unflinching look at the erotic, sensual relations between people, which is often woven within a scathing critique of poverty, inequality, and the inherent violence of homophobia, racism, and sexism. Song of the Golden Scorpion is no different. As the socially conscious Xochiquetzal embarks on a love affair with her much younger and more privileged mate, Javier, she confronts the many troubling aspects of life in her adopted country of México that extend even beyond its borders: a class system that has left the indigenous population in wretched poverty, taboos over age differences, global climate change, and daily reminders of the havoc wrought by humans in their quest for economic and social dominance.
The novel itself is divided in five parts and spans thirty years, beginning with the approach of the Mayan Sixth World. Weaving dreams, journal entries, poetry, and third-person narrative, the novel at times descends into the mystic and cosmic elements of Xochiquetzal and Javier’s erotic relationship while never departing from its critique of humanity’s destructive capacity. As they travel between the United States and México, they meet a cast of characters that will permanently change their lives. They forge emotional, spiritual connections with Ai, a Japanese woman who takes a vow of silence and plants crystals in protest of her family’s tragedy as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima; Hank, a Hopi from New Mexico who shares his knowledge of Native prophecies; Ari, an Israeli whose family members were killed during the Holocaust; Don Francisco, a Oaxacan healer who sees what others cannot; and other characters such as Pompeii, Floriana, and Pablo who suffer their own unique despair as well. The characters’ experiences with loss and deep personal tragedies impact their relationships with each other, and it is their shared emotional scars that connect them as they seek greater meaning in their lives. Despite the devastation that plagues these characters’ lives, Villanueva insists on the power of love and human friendship as a catalyst for social change. Rejecting the media frenzy that aligned the Mayan Sixth World with apocalypse, the novel instead is a beautiful, sensuous celebration of love, the erotic, physical body, new beginnings, and the flawed, wounded people who make our lives worth living. It is love, one’s willingness to make oneself vulnerable to another that is the most sacred play. Cristina Herrera is an Associate Professor in Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno.
interview a Conversation with by Marcelo Castillo
La Tolteca: What or whom encouraged you to write? La Tolteca: What or whom encouraged you to write? What were some of your earliest projects or ideas? Juan Blea: When I was about twelve, I started keeping a journal as a way to make sense of the distinct realities within which I participated. The world of school was much different than the world of my home and barrio. There was a real culture clash; in school, it was about “me.” At home and in the barrio, it was about “us.” In school we used English, but at home and in the barrio, we used a combination of Spanglish. Writing things in a journal helped me to keep track of my place in very different worlds. But, then, my desire to become a writer as a career blossomed due to three (3) books: Bless Me Ultima and Heart of Aztlán by Rudolfo Anaya and Sapogonia by Ana Castillo. Those three works showed me that writers could be agents of social change because each spoke of identity formation and maintenance, which, is the theme to which all of my works return. L/T: What inspired writing your novel Butterfly Warrior? By the way, how long did it take for you to write? JB: Jimi Hendrix inspired Butterfly Warrior, which was originally titled: Butterflies and Moonbeams. Those were lyrics within ‘Little Wing.’ I have a love of Aztec Mythology and in my research, I learned of Izpapalotl, the Butterfly Warrior. It seemed like a good variation on my original inspiration. Butterfly Warrior took about eighteen months to complete. L/T: Will you give us your definition of Aztlán? 40
JB: Aztlán, as I see it, exists on three levels: • historical, • psychological, • spiritual On a historical level, Aztlán has been generally described as the swath of land that México ceded to the U.S. within the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ( included all or part of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nevada and parts of Califas). Many people instantly became territorial possessions of a country with a different language and customs. Literally, many people were turned into immigrants with the splashing of some ink upon a legal document. The Chicano Movement sought to re-establish this swath of land and called it Aztlán, evidenced by El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán. In regaining this territory, the idea was that the form of government would change, as would the type of economics practiced within Aztlán. The inhabitants of this territory would be Chicanos and those people would form a sovereign nation-state. However, the Chicano Movement lost steam and as more generations have assimilated, the idea that this land known as Aztlán could return to its inhabitants has largely been forgotten.
On a psychological level, though Aztlán has been largely a part of Chicano ideology, for me, it is the source of my identity. I am Chicano: A bilingual and bi-cultural person who owns both realities of which I am a part. I draw from Aztlán, as it’s the source of all that’s good, strong and beautiful. Fear or addiction or depression do not belong within Aztlán; all that I create for the betterment of all people derives from Aztlán.
considered? Also, how did you find the experience raising the monies, creating videos and reaching out to people to bring your project to self-publication? JB: I first learned about crowd-funding because of the JOBS Act. What the JOBS Act did was allow startups to use “crowd-funding” for business creation. I got to wondering if artists could fund projects through crowd-funding and found Indie-a-go-go and Kickstarter. I considered Indie-a-go-go, but I liked the “all or nothing” methodology of Kickstarter. In many ways, I figured that if I couldn’t fund the project, then Journey to Aztlán just wasn’t meant to be. But, my Kickstarter campaign was funded and the novel is now alive.
However, there are many people who believe that life in the U.S. has no place for them, regardless of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds. However, we all have a “homeland” inside of ourselves from which we can draw strength and courage. This source of identity is Aztlán, for me, but it could be just as easily known as anything else, like psychological empowerment, mental I think the Kickstarter campaign was a good process health, whatever it’s called, it’s still Aztlán to me. and experience. I have to admit that I felt like a pest because outreach is the key to success on Kickstarter Really, Aztlán exists on a spiritual level, as it’s and other crowd-funding platforms. The really good analogous for me to the concept of the “Imago Dei;” thing was that once it was done, I was accountable to the image of God that exists in every single person on everyone who contributed and even though it is my the planet. Although the Chicano Movement failed to book, I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who establish a physical location known as Aztlán, for me, supported me that I intend to repay through making it through great Chicano authors like Rudolpho Ananya, a success. Ana Castillo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez, and others I learned that Aztlán L/T: How did you decide which self-publishing lives inside of me just as company to go with? What it lives inside all people were some others that you everywhere. may have researched or considered, so that our Educational psychologists readers may check them speak and write about the out? “Pygmalion Effect,” that is, people perform to the level JB: After interviewing that they believe themselves and researching literally capable. If people could dozens of self-publishing learn about and understand companies I went with Aztlán as I understand Outskirts Press. There’s a it, people would perform whole bunch of options; higher, as they would Amazon uses its own understand that they are format for Kindle eBooks Patricia Quintana, USA ©2013 worthy and capable of all and CreateSpace for that is good and strong and beautiful as the Image of printed books. I went with Outskirts because their God is. service was really personal and I really feel like I got the best product and value for my investment. L/T: For Aztlán, you chose to fund it via the funding platform Kickstarter. How did you learn about that L/T: You mentioned that you would like Journey to crowd-sourcing platform? Were there others that you Aztlán to be used as a resource in the classroom, how 41
would you like it to be used? JB: To me, my memoir is an empowerment concept. Even though its roots are in the Chicano Movement as a physical location, I see it as the source of all that’s good and strong and beautiful in all people, regardless of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Really, if students come to believe that they are capable of great things, they will perform to those capabilities. If, as educational researchers like Jeannie Oakes and Jonathon Kozol demonstrate, students are treated as though they shouldn’t perform well, they won’t. So, if I could bring Aztlán into classrooms and teach students that they are capable of greatness, they will achieve great things.
“Sueno de la Tierra” Emilia Garcia, USA ©2014
L/T: In case schools would like to invite you to come and speak where are you located? JB: I live and work in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I hold a Master’s in Education and am a licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. L/T: Does where you live influence the topics you cover, or how you write? JB: Absolutely. I use both Spanish and English in my writing because I use both within my day-to-day life. Plus, I strongly believe that the substance abuse issues we face here in Northern New Mexico are directly 42
related to an historical and cultural loss of identity. If I could get people to understand that they do have a place in this community, perhaps we can reduce the substance abuse and depression issues we collectively face. L/T: Do you have any other projects that you are working on? JB: I’ve just recently released a leadership course based upon a leadership model I developed as part of my graduate thesis called Contextual Leadership. This course, now available as a Kindle eBook, is $2.99. Again, it’s an empowerment approach to leadership. L/T: How was the reception of Aztlán? JB: The response has been good; those who have read it have felt strongly that it’s not only an inspirational story, but also a good tool for others to overcome their own personal struggles. I am thrilled that it’s getting legs and I do look forward to continuing to promote it. I believe it really can change the world. L/T: Where can our readers check out more or your work, or get in contact with you? JB: I blog at jblea1016.com and they can check out my Amazon Author Page. For those who may want to learn more or ask any questions they have about overcoming Depression and/or Addiction (or if they have questions about crowd-funding and/or selfpublishing); they can email me at jblea1016@hotmail. com. ☐
Spring reads Flesh To Bone Ire’ne Lara Silva $14.95 Aunt Lute Press, 2013 In this first collection of short stories rooted in a Chicana/Latina/Indigenous geographic and cultural sensibility, the stories take on the force of myth, old and new. Silva metes out furious justice—whirling, lyrical energy—that scatters the landscape. “Ire’ene Lara Silva writes about what’s between dark shadow and daylight.” —Dagoberto Gilb
Spring reads Indigenous Message on Water/Mensaje indígena de agua Edited by Juan Guillermo Sánchez Martínez E-book $7.00 via Paypal https://payhip.com/b/5H0g Part of an international initiative, Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace 2014, this multilingual anthology (English, Spanish and Native languages) has gathered poems, and general reflections written by East and West activists and poets on the current critical issues pertaining to water.
Butterfly Warrior: Xican@ Healing Stories By Juan Blea Paperback: 135 pages Publisher: Sherman Asher Pub (July 31, 2006) $16.00 Butterfly Warrior follows the progress of four friends who grew up together in the Los Arbolitos Barrio of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Though the conflict between language and customs is at the heart of all Latino fiction, Butterfly Warrior sets these dichotomies at odds with the usage of technology and its potential for both good and bad within the traditional Latino community and the power of music to heal.
“Elk Rut” Patricia Quintana, USA ©2014
Border Crossing A story by Omar González
he conjunto music fills the crisp desert air of the summer nights of the mid-1980s. I am at a wedding reception or perhaps just a summer barbecue at my tia’s house in Ysleta, Texas. I am reading by the dim light coming from the kitchen that spills meekly into the backyard. I take a book everywhere I go. My extended family has stopped questioning my mother long ago about my incessant need to carry a book (which at the age of 13 was probably something by Stephen King or Madeline L’Engle). My erotic desire for other men had begun to consume my thoughts. I longed for the warmth of a Chicano who drank, laughed and danced. I desired the affection that my tíos granted their wives and girlfriends. I longed to be held in their arms with my head buried in their barrelchested fur, as they slow-danced to Oldies. I noticed the men’s bodies as they danced with their rucas; thighs bulged through their tight Levis or Wranglers. The thick mat of hair protruded from the top of their Westernstyle shirts matching their moustaches. I could see the outline of genitalia on my favorite tío’s jeans and the rising and falling of his erections. This tío exuded masculinity (he installed water heaters and repaired air conditioners), and I melted every time he’d utter his nickname for me, “Órale, ya vino el Homer!” He was very generous with his hugs, and his hands would often linger on my body. He was an alcoholic, but at the time I just thought of him as a heavy drinker, like my mother and the rest of her cousins. I always remained in his vicinity. The mix of his body odor, Stetson cologne, and the alcohol coming from his pores was intoxicating to me. One night, he was alone in the backyard at the usual family congregating spot, his mother’s house (my mother’s nina), and sitting around a fire pit alone with a couple of empty cases of beer. “Hi, Tío!” I called. He gave me a bear hug. I inhaled him as deeply as I could when I was pressed up against his chest. I seized this opportunity to rub his back. My hand went further down towards his belt line. His shirt, Western-style of course, had un-tucked itself from inside his jeans. I rubbed the base of his back slowly, running my fingers through the pelos sprouting there. He responded in kind. He stroked my hair and lifted my shirt to rub the smooth skin of my back. I was still pressed up against his chest and slightly opened my mouth wanting to taste his salty, drunken Chicano workingclass essence. His throbbing erection threatened to split the tough denim at the seams. This was not my first experience with another man’s erection pressed against me, but it was the first one with which I exerted any agency. He felt me moving my stomach on his erection. He didn’t say anything. He just tilted my chin up towards his dark Chicano indigenous face and kissed me lightly on the lips. He pulled away and asked me with an intense look in
Border Crossing continued his eyes, “Do you love me, mi’jo?” I replied, “A lot, tío.” He gave me his typical big toothy smile and said, “Let’s go to the store. Ya mero acabo este case de beer.” I ran to tell my mother that I was going with her cousin (her favorite dancing partner since my parents’ divorce) to the local Good Time Store. I made sure to adjust my erection before I went inside the house. She didn’t even look at me when I told her. She was too busy chismiando with her tía and other women relatives. “Bring us some cigarros and cemillas!” My mother shrieked. “Ok!” I responded. I climbed into his pick-up still harboring my intense erection. As soon as I was about to put on my seatbelt, my tío said, “Sit closer to me, mi’jo. We’re just going around the corner.” I obeyed and slid towards the middle of the seat. It was a warm summer night in the Lower Valley in El Paso. He put his muscled arm around my shoulder, squeezing tightly. My hand had “accidentally” fallen on his leg. I turned to look at him and noticed he had undone three of the silver clasps on his sweat-soaked shirt. I had seen him bare-chested before but never had been this close to him shirtless. I almost gasped. The fur on his chest was a thick mat of coarse dark manliness. He saw me staring at his chest and asked playfully, “You like all that pelo, mi’jo?” I gulped and nodded. He smiled and turned up his stereo—the Oldies station. ‘Bloodstone’ crooned “Natural High.” He started singing but his voice was so deep and hoarse that it clashed with the singer’s falsetto. My hand on his leg fell towards the inside of his thigh and he kept squeezing my shoulder and upper arm. I wanted to shift my orientation in the truck so my hand could reach his crotch, but I was frozen. He broke the brief reverie, “I have to take a piss, mi’jo.” There wasn’t much traffic on Alameda and the moon was nowhere to be seen. He unzipped his pants, as I also proceeded to do. (It was difficult for me because I still had an erection.) My tío was half hard and he opened his button fly all the way to the bottom. I had to look. Oh God, I thought. I could hear his violent stream of piss hit the ground several feet away. I was standing
there with my erection in my hand forcing myself to produce some urine, but I was dry. He kept pissing all that Lone Star beer. He didn’t say a word; he just sighed with relief. I decided to look. I shifted my head down and tried to shift my eyes but I cocked my head ever so slightly, and he caught me. “Are you trying to look at your tío’s verga, mi’jo?” I shook my head quickly wanting to run away until he said, “It’s okay, mi’jo. Go ahead and look.” I took his invitation and shifted my body forty-five degrees to my right and witnessed a magnificent sight—my tío’s huge uncut penis, his hairy crotch, and his dangling testicles. He looked down and noticed my own appendage still in my hand. He had ceased urinating and shook the remaining drops of urine from his beautiful penis. He turned towards me with his shirt and fly open for the world and then pulled me closer. I started breathing harder and more rapidly. “Are you okay, mi’jo?” He asked. I could only gulp and nod. I took his manhood in my hand and started to stroke it lightly. He moaned. I grabbed his hairy testicles and rubbed them slowly with my fingers. Without saying a word, he pushed my head down to the ground. I knelt on the patchy grass and opened my mouth wide. I started to pleasure him and he responded, “That’s the way, mi’jo. Oh yeah, chupame…” After several minutes, I heard a long inhaling sound. I had no idea what this sound could be. I took my tío’s penis out of my mouth and looked up at his hairy crotch and chest. He was making inhaling sounds, but why? He inhaled a second time. I asked, “What’s wrong, tío?” He responded, “Here, mi’jo. Put this under your nose and inhale deep. It was a small dark vial of liquid. It smelled like the liquid paper my friends and I sniffed, just much stronger. I did what he said and inhaled. I was transported to another realm of pleasure and consciousness. I heard him say, “Now with the other side.” I took an even deeper inhalation that time. I was pure ecstasy. I couldn’t believe what happened next. My tío knelt down and started to pleasure me. I could feel his whiskers on my testicles, and I heard him stroking his penis while devouring my sex organ.
“Chavela” (Details on p. 47, 49 ) Emilia Garcia, USA ©2014
He took another inhalation and handed the bottle to me. I took two deep inhalations. The pleasure was unbelievable. Before I knew it, I was about to climax. I started to convulse, and my tío only proceeded to deep throat me even further. My husky, masculine, hairy, womanizing tío was about to swallow my essence. He grabbed my ass and pulled me closer into him as if he wanted us to fuse into one being. I came like I had never come before. He swallowed every drop. “Did you like that, mi’jo?” He asked. I could only nod, incapable of speech. (I was now on my own natural high.) He took me into his truck, laid me down on my back and slid my shorts off. He took off his boots and jeans, which was difficult since he was drunk. (He even fell on his bare ass once.) He was completely naked except for the unsnapped shirt. “Take off your camisa,” I commanded. I was surprised at my assertiveness, but he smiled and acquiesced. My husky, masculine, hairy, womanizing tío was naked. He laid me back and put his weight on top of me. He threw a half empty bag of sunflower seeds on the floor along with some empty beer cans. He looked down at me with a lustful grin. His weight was both uncomfortable and welcome. His hairy chest contrasted with my smooth torso. He kissed me. I had French kissed other boys but not a man. His moustache and stubble sent me into a delirium. Now, I was making out with my husky, masculine, hairy, womanizing tío! He started kissing everywhere. I was ready to ejaculate again. He placed his hairy nipple in my mouth. He moaned. I started sucking on it. He gave me his other one. He tasted just like I thought he would—pure manliness. I inhaled his hairy, sweaty armpit and winced at the remnants of his Speed Stick Deodorant. I ejaculated again—the fluid pressed between my penis and his hairy abdomen. He laughed, “Chinga’o, mi’jo! ” We kissed briefly until he pulled out something from his glove compartment—a small bottle of Vaseline. Before I could protest, he placed the vial under my nose again. I took the biggest inhalation I could in both nostrils. Then, my husky, masculine, hairy, womanizing tío lubricated me, and we connected as one organism for the next half hour. As his leche spilled into me he whispered, “Te quiero, mi’jo.” I gasped as he collapsed on me. As I cleaned up in the Good Time’s bathroom, I had the biggest smile when I saw my tío flirting with the cashier, an aging veteran. I couldn’t have cared less. I forgot the excuse my tío gave my mom, but from that night forward, I’d always be his Homer, his secret natural high.
Omar González (Los Angeles, Workshopista, 2010) is a Ph.D. student in Chicana/o Studies at UCLA.
Healing With Yemaya by Nakisha N. Rice
oothing, healing, and nurturing Yemaya Magnificent Mother of the Sea. Your waters are the place where shades of blue intermingle, dance and play. Cool aquamarine, sapphire, clear, glistening, and bright. Deep dark cobalt blue, mysterious in the shadow of moonlight. Come talk to Momma, your vastly deep waters whisper to me. I step in and jump back as the cool effervescent foamy waters caress my cinnamon brown pedicured feet, toes painted new car red. I dig them into the sand and look out at your vast waters. The foam feels gentle and serene.
life, and you have renewed my life. I am your daughter and my body is more than fifty percent water. I am learning to be in my liquid body and let problems flow and recede. As I gaze at you, I am aware that it is in your waters that many of my ancestors traveled aboard ships as cargo. Many perished, jumping into the arms of you great mother for refuge. Others prayed to you for a safe journey. You followed your children, washing upon the banks of Brazil, the shores of Cuba and the beaches of America.
You are not always gentle, as you are a fierce protectress. Your convulsing tidal waves and surging tsunamis “Omio Yemaya!” I call destroy and purify. We out to you “I give my humans must honor problems to you and you and protect you, from cleanse me of my worries companies like Exxon “Harvest Moon” Patricia Quintana, USA ©2014 and troubles. I stand in and BP who soil your the midst of your vibrant oceans, and the life that beauty.” you breed. The radiation from Fukushima is making you sick and refuse ravages you and decimates your Yemaya, mother whose children are the fishes, all life beauty. Internalized hate allows one to destroy their originates in your waters, thank you for your surfs that mother; we must reclaim your dignity. wax and wane as you nurture and destroy. A crest of your waters embraces me. When I cry, you wash away As I listen to your waves to provide answers, I ask for my pain, and comfort me. My salt-water tears return a sign. Suddenly seven seagulls fly overhead. Seven to your vast seawaters. Tears of pain, you change to is your number; it is you saying, “Yes, I meant what I tears of healing. You hold me and rock me in your said.” gentle waves, continually caring for me. Maferefun, Yemaya for protecting me, thank you. You carry me Omio Yemaya! Thank you for deepening my strength, past despair and hopelessness, replacing it with joy and encircling me in your healing. and renewed faith. Great mother, thank you for your healing energy. Your waters heal inflammation, sore muscles, depression and sadness. You give and take Nakisha Rice (Spiritual Memoir Workshopista, SF, 2014) 50
LA TOLTECA announcements
Se Habla Español OUR FALL ISSUE! “Se Habla Español” Workshopistas, you are invited to submit any genre on the theme of bilingualism, translations, or original Spanish works. Tell us how you’ve come to the language on your own. Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Fall submission deadline is July 1, 2014
Spring Writing Workshops with
Flor De Nopal Literary Festival presents a Spiritual Memoir Writing Workshop with Ana Castillo on Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 1 to 4 pm. For further information and details, please apply: email@example.com
“With its daring eroticism, this novel makes a bold statement about feminism and women of color.” —Buzzfeed.com
(Fourteen MustRead Works of Chicano Literature)
Give It To Me
Novel Release May 2014 Feminist Press ❦
Book Tour, Readings and Signings
“Castillo has established a solid reputation as one of the most powerful writers giving voice to the contemporary Chicana experience. Palma lives up to Castillo’s reputation of creating strong characters that defy stereotypes.” —Starred review, Library Journal
LA TOLTECA Spring 2014
Patricia Quintana, USA ÂŠ2014
Ignatius Valentine Aloysius
Ignatius is currently the Spring 2014 Ana Castillo Writer-in-Residence in el ranchito, El Cielito Con Nopales. The Ana Castillo Writer-in-Residence is an extension of her workshops. A writer who has participated in three or more workshops or attended a university course with Ana Castillo may apply.
The residency provides room and board (up to one month) to a writer in need of time and space for completing a project. Up to two are granted each year. Applications are under review for 2015: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristina Correa (fiction and poetry) is our summer 2014 Writer-in-Residence. She is an MA candidate and active in the literary arts scene in Chicago. 54
See you in September, 2014!
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